Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the COVID-19 response in British Columbia:
"Today, we are reporting on three periods: from March 19 to 20, we had 556 new cases, from March 20 to 21 we had 598 new cases and in the last 24 hours, we had a further 631 new cases.
"This results in a total of 1,785 new cases, including two epi-linked cases, for a total of 92,571 cases in British Columbia.
"There are 5,290 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,333 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 85,746 people who tested positive have recovered.
"Of the active cases, 303 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 80 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
"Since we last reported, we have had 469 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,010 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 89 in the Island Health region, 84 in the Interior Health region, 133 in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
"There have been 166 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 1,366 cases. Of the total cases, 237 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 1,240 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 41 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 85 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
"To date, 539,408 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., 87,161 of which are second doses. Vaccine appointment bookings are open for people 78 or older, and Indigenous peoples over age 55.
"The latest AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccine trials have shown high effectiveness to protect people from illness - much greater than what was originally shown. This is good news for all of us, as we continue with our parallel vaccine approach.
"There have been 16 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,437 deaths in British Columbia.
"There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks and the outbreaks at Chilliwack General Hospital and the Florentine are over.
"It is very important for everyone to understand that the risk for all of us remains high. COVID-19 did not go away with the time change or start of spring. While the number of people who are vaccinated has substantially increased, we do not yet have enough protection to keep all of us safe.
"We have seen an uptick in new cases and clusters of COVID-19 in the Lower Mainland. This is a concern for all of us because, as we have seen before, this increase can quickly escalate to other regions of our province.
"These escalating new cases reflect the transmission is in workplaces and indoor gatherings that contravene public health orders.
"Indoor gatherings - of any size - continue to be high risk. The only safe place for us to gather with our small groups of friends or family right now - with no more than 10 people - is outside.
"Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends are still at risk of severe illness. This means spring weddings, birthday parties or other occasions need to be pushed to summertime, when it will once again be far safer for us to spend time with others.
"Businesses need to continue to have robust COVID-19 safety plans and, as individuals, we need to continue to use our protective layers.
"The variants of concern are increasing and they transmit more easily, making it increasingly difficult to stop the spread. This means we all need to be slow and steady in our efforts.
"Let's make spring the time to be outside and only in our small groups, taking the steps we need to keep each other and ourselves safe. Let's push back on COVID-19, so we can continue on our path to the brighter days ahead."
To view the March 18, 2021, immunization PowerPoint presentations, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/03.18.2021_COVID_Immunization_Plan.pdf
Latest vaccine information:
For vaccine information, visit the BCCDC dashboard: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/data